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Then & Now: Pippi Longstocking (Tami Erin)

09.14.2012by: Salacious Crumb

Time: The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. Brace youselves. We're gonna get a little weird here, folks. I know the first glance at that title just makes you want to scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you're not wrong for doing so. Hell, that's what I would do. But don't. At the very least get yourself familiar with the pure face of evil itself before jumping to the "NOW" section. No, I'm not talking about Hellraiser. Nor the Joker or Lord Voldemort. I'd rather be in the same phone-booth with all three of those freaks than in the same building with this one. The freak I'm talking about is Pippi Longstocking, as portrayed by Tami Erin.

This is usually where I'd provide you with some background on the woman in question, but to be honest, there's not a whole lot to dig up on Tami Erin. She allegedly did some modeling throughout her childhood. Her first and last high-profile gig was THE NEW ADVENTURES OF PIPPI LONGSTOCKING. Casting-director Garrison True apparently chose Tami out of over 8,000 young actresses in a worldwide hunt for the role of Pippi Longstocking. I didn't write her life story. If I did, I'd make sure she was never involved with such a film. It's a perfect example of what NOT to show your children at an impressionable age. Anyway, let's cut to the chase and get to this ice-cream headache of a character.

                                                           "Pippi Longstocking is coming into your town...".

Those are not celebratory lyrics, they are a warning. Lock your f*cking doors and hide the children. Pippi's comin'! I once criticized DROP DEAD FRED for sending a terrible message to kids, but this nightmare child would have Freddy adding a shade of brown to his imaginary green pants. The 1988 film THE NEW ADVENTURES OF PIPPI LONGSTOCKING stretches far from the innocent perimeters of the little pigtailed ginger's previous adventures. It's like The Cat and the Hat, if the Cat denounced education, taught the kids how to play with guns, and didn't bother to clean up the huge mess he made before fleeing the scene. Except it's worse, because this is not a sly, poetry spewing feline causing the damage. It's a creepy My Buddy doll come to life, much like Chucky. The whole thing is so immoral and bizarre, like the script was co-written by Aaron Seltzer and Aleister Crowley. Check out this psychedelic poster for the movie that some poor artist was driven insane trying to create...

                                                                                               "... on LSD!"

   Believe it or not, all that crazy shit above is relevant to the story. Let me break it down for you. In the movie, just as in the 1950's children's books, Pippi is the daughter of a buccaneer captain, a.k.a. pirate, which is already a bad sign. Her best friends in the world are her horse and a monkey in a captain's hat, whom she refers to as "Sir". That's right, she takes orders from a monkey. A deceitful, feces-chucking monkey. When her father's ship gets wrecked in a storm, they get separated in the middle of the open sea, and both of them seem perfectly cool with this. Pippi's father knows she'll be just fine on her own, floating in the cold ocean on a broken piece of wood like it's f*ckin' TITANIC. And she does, in some Jason-like form of immortality, turn out fine, as do her pets. She ends up on the beaches of Florida right by a village of unsuspecting, jolly townsfolk, and seeks to destroy quicker than Jaws himself.

Pippi finds an abandoned house to claim as her own, which is next door to two kind, well behaved, got-their-whole-lives-ahead-of-them kids named Tommy and Annika. Since their parents left them with no babysitter, nanny or dog around to stop them from letting demons into the house, they go ahead and invite Pippi Longstocking inside. In fact, Pippi is so assertive, they pretty much let her do whatever she damn well pleases, even if that means decorating their interior walls with pancake batter while breaking out in song. Oh yes, this is a musical. Tommy and Annika are good kids, but they're naive, and it was just a matter of time before they were tricked into following the lead of some Manson-esque, corruptive psychopath.

When the children's parents get back home from their swingers party, their mother thinks nothing of the mess they've made, but the father, Mr. Settigren (played by Dennis Dugan), is furious. He's not a fan of Pippi, nor the fact that she brought a monkey and a whole goddamn horse into his house. His wife quickly denies him nookie unless he agrees to let Pippi stay. The next day is his birthday, by the way, and when Mrs. Settigren brings out her husband's delicious-looking birthday cake, Pippi gets right out of her chair and plummets her face directly into it. Mrs. Settigren just thinks it's hilarious. She thinks it's cute to see silly Pippi ripping her pillows apart, feathers flying and all. Another thing about Pippi, is she's never been to school. She can't read, write or distinguish right from wrong, but she's been on so many adventures with her drunken pirate dad, she's too cool for school. She ridicules and mocks the idea of learning things, as she sits outside Tommy and Annika's classroom window, distracting all the students with her BS stories from the sea.

Did I mention she has superhuman strength? Just like Xena: Warrior Princess, Pippi defies the laws of physics constantly, having no common knowledge of physics whatsoever. She can lift her horse up with one hand, no problem. Don't f*ck with Pippi. At one point in the film, Tommy, Annika and Pippi build a working airplane in the shed over the course of a song, which is powered by Pippi, who spins like a propeller with a broom in her hands to get it lifted. Once it inevitably crashes, the kids all survive, and instead of running home due to their traumatic hemorrhages, they go camping. Why? Because Pippi says so, and whatever Pippi says, goes. Or she'll cut you.

While they're all sitting at the lovely campfire, Pippi starts jabbering on about zombies. Then she proudly TAKES OUT HER GUN, flailing it around carelessly in every direction. Several times she has the barrel RIGHT UP TO HER FACE, and in those moments you pray she accidentally pulls the trigger so little Tommy and Annika can have a chance at a decent life. But no. She winds up nearly getting them killed by waterfall, when a helicopter saves them just in the knick of time.

A recurring issue in the movie is the absence of Pippi's mother. Whenever Mrs. Settigren asks about her, Pippi just changes the subject, which is pretty creepy. The question never gets answered, leading you to think Pippi and her father made Mrs. Longstocking walk the plank. With no mother or father around to maintain this hell-child, the police send her to an orphanage, where she has to learn, and Pippi ain't down with that. She refuses to let facts enter her stubborn skull, so she uses her time at the orphanage to start food fights and draw horses on the hardwood floor.

                                                                        What a little asshole...

Later on, she gets sent to the attic for her misbehavings, where she meets a creepy homeless dude who makes glue, played by Dick Van Patton. Sure, a crazy, dirty man living in the attic of an orphanage, that's the guy to go to for help. She has him write a message to her father (remember, she can't write), then she puts it in a bottle and uses her super-strength to throw it way out into the ocean (from the window) like Thor with his hammer. Dick Van Patton then helps her escape by applying his "magic glue" to the bottom of her shoes, then she walks out the window and down the side of the orphanage building. Who needs logic? That night, the orphanage sets fire 'without explanation", and Pippi comes to the rescue to everyone left inside, while the firemen all stand around and watch.

                                                          I'll bet that horse wishes HE could be magical glue.

Pippi's a hero now! The townspeople are so proud of her, they no longer see harm in letting her stay in an abandoned house all by herself, because she's clearly an adult! Yet when her father receives that message-in-a-bottle she threw randomly (this is ridiculous, I know), he shows up to take her back to the pirate life. As the ship is taking off, Pippi's waving goodbye to the town, and when she sees that little Annika is crying, she feels empathy for the first time in her life. She tells her father she wants to stay and be a regular kid, to which he basically says "whatevs". Pippi then throws her depressed horse overboard into the ocean, and then jumps ship herself to swim back to shore. And that's the end.

I want to point out that THE NEW ADVENTURES OF PIPPI LONGSTOCKING was filmed on a budget of $20 million, which for 1988 wasn't exactly chump change. They were expecting this movie to do good things. It did receive two Razzie Award nominations including Worst New Star to Tami Erin as Pippi Longstocking, which is kind of sad. She was only a child afterall, and couldn't predict the backlash such a thing would have on her career. This led to Tami Erin's disappearance from Hollywood movies altogether. She was in a few independent features several years after, but nothing you'd ever see in video stores. I bet you're wondering "what has become of Pippi Longstocking?" (unless you were smart and scrolled right to the bottom). Well, why don't you see for yourself?...


Oh my lord. Of course she would be hot now! Natural redheads always grow up to be hot. It's not fair! I was hoping she'd still have her hair in stupid-ass pigtails so I could continue to hate her for enernity, and now I just want to do her with a captain's hat on, monkey style! Okay, I guess I might be exaggerating. It's not like she's been parading around in a bunch of different bikinis...  

Hubba, freakin' hubba. You have to admit, for a 38-year-old who HAS NOT been in movies for a couple decades, she looks mighty fine in a swimsuit! So Tami is out there doing the modeling thing, that much is clear. But is this a career of hers, or is this just a ploy to get back into her true passion (acting)? Who knows? Who really cares? I don't know how one bad movie in someone's childhood could affect their career so badly that they can't get work looking like that. Maybe she's just keeping a low profile(?). The latest gig on her IMDb page is the Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Chrimbus Special, in which she did the bizarre "Cinco Pasta Bear" mock commercial, which you can check out on YouTube

I think if there's something to learn from this, it's to not judge a ginger child so harshly. It's strange to observe this not-so-new prejudice toward redheads from numbskull youngsters as our society just lays back and accepts it. Way to teach them about tolerance: It's only a problem if it's the color of your skin they're after, otherwise the kids can throw rocks at you all they want. Gingers these days pretty much only have that crazy f*ck Prince Harry to represent them, and that's about it. The only other successful redheads I can come up with on the fly are Ron Howard, Bryan Cranston, Conan O' Brien, Louis C.K., Shaun White, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Simon Pegg, Chuck Norris, Willie Nelson, Mark McGwyer, 'Red' Skelton, Lucille Ball, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson and L. Ron Hubbard... and who the hell are they? I rest my case.

Congratulations on becoming really hot, Tami Erin! Ginger pride!

Tags: then & now


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